Westfield Council Rejects Energy Aggregation Bids

By REBECCA MEHORTER
For The Leader/Times

WESTFIELD — The Westfield Town Council members went through multiple agenda items at their snappy Tuesday night meeting. The council rejected energy aggregation bids, reappointed the municipal judge, passed two ordinances and announced two new traffic lights to be installed in town.

The council rejected the bids for energy aggregation requests for proposals after the bids came back and did not demonstrate any potential savings for residents. “We will revisit this opportunity as the market shifts and continue to look to create cost savings for residents and, ideally, save the planet while we’re at it,” Mayor Shelley Brindle said.

The council passed a resolution to re-appoint Parag Patel as municipal judge for a three-year term ending January 31, 2024. The council also passed a resolution to authorize a study looking at the feasibility of sharing municipal-court services with other towns, including Scotch Plains and Fanwood, later in the meeting. The resolution allows the town to work with the State of New Jersey and the Municipal Division of Courts in Union County, at no cost to the town, to see if sharing services would increase efficiency and reduce redundancies.

Mayor Brindle gave a Covid-19 pandemic update, saying that the virus was trending down and that the seven-day average for confirmed cases is down 22 percent from a week ago and down 39 percent from a month ago. She also said that CVS will begin taking appointments for vaccinations starting Thursday and that residents can sign up online on the CVS website.

She also mentioned that two new stoplights will be installed starting next month. One light will be located at Rahway Avenue and Lamberts Mill Road. The other will be located at Scotch Plains Avenue and West Broad Street.

In relation to traffic plans, Jeff Janota, who led H2M in the Westfield Master Plan Re-examination, died Monday. A longtime resident, Mr. Janota had a “commitment and passion for protecting and advocating for our town’s interests in the Master Plan process,” Mayor Brindle said.

General Ordinance No. 2204, which allows the town’s historic preservation chairman to conduct “expeditious review of minor work on designated properties in certain circumstances,” passed unanimously.

General Ordinance No. 2205, which allows changes to be made to the caps of certain fees at the Memorial Pool like group swim lessons, swim team, aquatic programs and private event reservations, passed as well.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Anthony Laporta, a former councilman, acknowledged that signs bearing names of victims of police brutality along the South Avenue traffic circle “serve a purpose,” but said, “what I want to honor is policemen — New Jersey policemen — that have died in service, protecting us.”

Mr. Laporta said he wants to work with town officials — suggesting that council members, the mayor and the police chief could be potential partners — to “put up maybe 10 signs or so in the same area, as that seems to be the place that names are put up these days.”

Mayor Brindle said the town does not get involved in signs. The signs Mr. Laporta referenced are protest signs created in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and were put up by residents. “It’s not a decision that the council makes or sponsors,” she said.

The Finance Policy Committee passed 10 resolutions as a package. They included a resolution to approve 2021 Westfield Memorial Pool membership rates and the resolution supporting the exploration of feasibility for a shared municipal court.

The Public Safety, Transportation and Parking Committee introduced General Ordinance No. 2206 on first reading. The ordinance would add stop signs at the Sherman Street and Sherbrooke Drive intersection to the town code. It also would amend the town code to add 121 Cacciola Place as a handicap-parking space.

The council passed General Ordinance No. 2207 on first reading to amend the town zoning map and identify 417 Prospect Street as a historic preservation designated landmark.

Lastly, the council passed General Ordinance No. 2208 on first reading. This ordinance would modify the town storm water control “to establish minimum storm water management requirements and controls for major” developments, the ordinance says.

The next Westfield Town Council meeting will take place on Tuesday, February 23, at 8 p.m. Residents are welcome to watch via Facebook Live or participate by joining the Zoom link available on the town website.

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